Warwick University was a chosen site on the recent Club Skinny/Arcadia tour. Alison (with a little help from Mrs. Beeton) tracked down all the bands and chatted about art, artifice, stolen pot plants, and snogging aliens, amongst other things...
Romo-art or artifice?
-Definitely. Artifice of the music press.
-Plastic Fantastic are Romo artifice.
-We're not, we're Romo terrorists.
Where do you think you'd be without Romo?
-At fuller venues, playing gigs with an audience.
-Yeah, it tends to scare people away quite a lot.
-But that's alright coz we like to see ourselves on the outside.
-Less DJs playing Duran Duran records afterwards.
Can you justify having major interviews in the music press before you've released anything?
-Well, if people are interested in you they tend to write about you, don't they?
-It's a bit rude, if someone wants to talk to you, just to say 'Hang on, we haven't had a single out yet, so we can't talk to you.'
-The journalist has to justify his decision to want to interview us really.
-We don't ring up the journalist and say 'Can you interview us please?' They ring us up.
So why do you think they want to interview you?
-Because they're bored and there's nothing else to write about.
-When they haven't got something to write about they'll invent something.
Is your preferred method of keeping lipstick from smudging blotting with tissue paper or dusting with powder?
-Neither, lip coat's blooming great and it stings your lips which is quite a nice feeling sometimes.
-Actually I blot and powder and lip coat.
-We don't wear lipstick anyway, what are you talking about?
-Shadric does sometimes.
-No, Shadric's lips are naturally glittery and silver, aren't they?
What do you think of 'The New Underground Movement'- Bis, Kenickie and people like that - which seems to be the NME's alternative to Romo?
- Oh Bis, I've heard of Bis, They're sort of guitary and energetic and things aren't they?
-They're beary and huggy. Riot Grrl type stuff.
-I think they should get real drums and then get machines to play the drums. They should build a machine that can play a drum kit.
-Like a robot.
What's your favourite- number seven or number seventeen?
- Seven's supposed to be lucky, but seventeen's actually my mum's house number, so I think I'll go for seventeen.
-Why do you ask that question?
-I thought it was to do with what age girls we like...
What age girls do you like?
-Girls...make-up....definitely number seven, both answers.
-Terrible- you're a disgrace!
Romo- art or artifice?
Xav- Both. When you start talking about things like art and artifice the world hasn't sorted out what they mean by those terms, so to contrast them against each other is tautology. So you can't really separate them.
How would you define Romo?
Gee- Romantic Mother Fuckers. [Laughter] It's about being different... a bit more colourful- not so much against mainstream, but just the dullness that surrounds pop music these days. There's a lot of good pop music about but nobody seems to want to be interesting.
Can you tell us any gossip from the Romo tour so far?
G- We got broken into last night, our bus got raided by some...raiders, probably... and they nicked loads of our stuff, but we went out looking for it and came back with it all.
X- It did not necessarily have to include walking around Manchester at 3 o'clock in the morning getting "Duran Duran" shouted at you, but it did.
Stephen- We've also got a Burger King tree on the bus.
G- There is a pot plant on the bus- a large pot plant from the service station, and we can't be quite sure how it got there..
Who would be your ideal snog?
X- I sometimes use a mirror.. erm.. Her. The Girlie Show... Rachel Williams. She's quite nice.
G- Somebody with big lips, I suppose. Mick Jagger or somebody.. Frank Bruno... Steve Tyler...
S- I know the girl but I don't remember her name.
X- Describe her.
S- Erm...Winona Ryder.
X- That's a great description; it's actually her name. It gives you a good picture of her.
What's your relationship like with the music press in general?
G- Well, it depends- If it's Melody Maker- they love us. If it's anybody else but Melody Maker, they hate us.
S- That's not necessarily true. In fact it's not true at all.. Select like us. I-d liked us - once.
X- We are the press, actually. We're just tired old journalists who decided to form a band. This is another lie, but.. it's fun!
G- We thought we'd form this whole scene coz we knew how to do it, having been journalists for so long. We get together, write all the songs, then share them out between the bands.
X- We decide which band should fit which category because that's usually the way that movements work, you've always got your Sex Pistols and your Clash. So we gave each band an identity. It's a bit like role-playing - you force yourself to live out the role daily, but when no one's watching we just turn back into, you know, our usual...
G- Britpop selves.
X- One of us is actually Jarvis Cocker, but we can't reveal who. He's not actually in Dexdexter, but it's one of the bands here tonight.
Romo- art or artifice?
Stacey- Art, definitely. It's just a group of people who've got together in clubs in London and a lot of good music's come out of it, and the media have decided to take certain aspects, like make-up and imaging, to publicise it.
Do you think it's seen as a predominantly male form?
Hannah- I think indie music is quite male-dominated anyway... It's interesting- in this scene there's no female-fronted band. There's us, but we're totally female; there's only two people in this band- you don't get three normal blokes and the girl's at the front singing.
S- There's a few more female bands coming up now- every week at Club Skinny they surface.
Why do you think there's been so much media interest in Romo?
H- It's because it's something different. The media's always trying to find new things, things have to move on, it might be the natural reaction to Britpop and everything that's gritty and down to earth and this scene is more of an escapism into music and fantasy really. The thing that maybe unites the scene is that it's basically everything that isn't normal and simple and boring, then within that frame you can do almost anything.
Who would you most like to snog?
S- Liam Gallagher maybe. Also various members of Menswear I find quite attractive as well...
H- Oh dear, oh dear!
S- Chris Gentry, alright, it's out! His nubile buttocks are a great turn on of mine. His young pert cheeks. He's close to my age as well, so I feel a close link with Chris Gentry, I think we were meant to be together. Hannah?
H- No one really. I think I'd like to snog an alien. I dream of being visited by an extremely attractive metallic-coloured alien with long-flowing black hair. I really look forward to a future where you can swop lonely hearts ads with other planets and maybe other solar systems. That'd be quite fun, wouldn't it? I really see that. Something like the internet that could go inbetween the galaxies and you wouldn't know what you'd get. You could put in a description, somewhere out there there must be one fitting. Yeah, I think I'll have to wait till then really.
Have you got any gossip about any of the other bands?
S- Not really.. erm Timothy from Orlando wears red jogging trousers in bed...
H- What about the plant?
S- Trevor from Plastic Fantastic did actually thieve a pot plant from the services last night, but that's not very gossipy is it really? Er no.. we share a bus with Orlando so we just get the Orlando info and they don't really get up to much.
Why not Mrs. Dalloway?
Tim- Because we're not named after the Virginia Woolf book! There's many places we're named after but the main one is a book Dickon read as a child called Orlando: The Marmalade Cat. And also, Mrs. Dalloway would be a silly name for a band.
How does it feel to go from a relatively obscure indie label to the front cover of Melody Maker in a few months?
-"relatively obscure indie label"- you're referring to what?
Ahh- this is strange that everyone knows about it. When we did that record no one seemed to buy it, no one reviewed it...
[at this point sad hack interviewer produces a copy of aforementioned record- really Orlando's first single, but released under the name Shelley, on Sarah Records, a year ago]
...Oh my goodness, you have one! Orlando already existed when we did that record. Literally we got the chance to collaborate with someone and put out the single. But we always knew we wanted to do Orlando, and on a major label, because it just becomes extremely frustrating, no matter how good the small indie label, you just can't reach as many people as you want to.
Orlando sound completely different from most other bands classified as Romo, so why do you think you've been lumped together with these bands?
- Probably something to do with us having the same manager as Hollywood. I like all the bands but there couldn't be two more different bands than us and Plastic Fantastic. Probably nail varnish is our only uniting factor. We all came along at a time when Britpop ruled and were such obvious reactions to that I think that's why we were all grouped together. I don't throw off the term Romo cause I'm quite happy to be part of a gang if they want me.
What's your preferred shade of nail varnish?
- Well, I'm gold at the moment, but I had a really nice baby blue earlier. But I broke a nail last night so I'm hiding it now coz I haven't got any false ones that fit.
Romo- art or artifice?
Both, unfortunately. But I think the motives of some people are probably more artifice than art. You'd best tell that if you came on the tourbus with each of the bands.
Aw- there's plenty of gossip. There's a definite reason why we have two tourbuses. It's to do with the fact that some bands just won't tour with each other, not because they dislike each other, they just have different... living styles.And the drummer from Plastic Fantastic stole a pot plant last night. That's so far the most rebellious thing that's happened, unfortunately.
Who would be your ideal kiss?
It was Anna Friel for a very long time... Sonya from Echobelly ranks pretty high... still very fond of Kylie.. There's a very long list... Joanne Whalley Kilmer, even though she's old.. Yeah, it would have to be one of those.... Although my crushes are fading now, I think I'm growing up.
Plastic Fantastic, Orlando, Hollywood and Dexdexter were talking to Mrs. Beeton and Alison, in May 1996.